I am participating in Jenny Matlock's Alphabe Thursday
I've really been on an emotional roller coaster lately! Dealing with the stroke and cardiac problems of my elderly mother and, getting her settled in an extended care facility in Georgia, have been almost overwhelming, especially at a time when there should be so much happiness in our family. My middle son, Alex, will be getting married in just a little over a month and he and his two brothers - and about twenty other testosterone-laden males of the species are bound for a three night sojourn in Las Vegas, starting tomorrow.
That will the locale for Alex's "bachelor" party. My youngest and oldest sons will be driving from San Francisco to Las Vegas with a few of the other guys and a car laden with various types of alcohol ( non of it the medicinal kind ), snacks, and essentials to tide them through the weekend. Alex, who lives in Sacramento, will fly to Las Vegas ( I think his bride-to-be feels it might be safer that way! Perhaps she saw the movie, "The Hangover" ).
On their return, my oldest son, Shawn, who is now 39-years-old and has been an Air Force reservist for about 16 years, will be reporting to Travis Air Force Base, sixty miles north of San Francisco to await deployment with his C17 squadron ( he is an electrical engineer and works on the navigation systems for the aircraft ) to Afghanistan. I don't want him to go. It isn't the first time he's been activated. In the last eight years, he's spent about three years total active duty time, most of it at Travis, replacing active military troops that went to Iraq. He did go to Kuwait for four months and spent about six weeks on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean but, in those spots, he was pretty safe. Afghanistan is a different story altogether. There is a war going on and while Shawn tells me his planes will be kept in the "green" zone, I don't really think any place is that safe! Mortars and rockets know no boundaries and, it seems to me, the Taliban and other insurgents relish attacking the "green" zone.
I know Shawn is an adult and he made this choice to be in the reserves - I come from a military family ( my stepfather retired as an Infantry full colonel with three tours of duty in Viet Nam ) so I do understand. Having just been in my home town of Columbus and neighboring, Ft. Benning, Georgia, it just broke my heart talking to young men and women, who looked barely old enough to be out of high school, heading off to deploy in Iraq or Afghanistran.
Shawn has been an incredible son and big brother. He is eleven years older than Alex and thirteen years older than Jeremy. Their father left the family after I had extensive back surgery and never saw or supported them. If it hadn't been for Shawn, I wonder if we would have made it! Every day, he would take the boys to a sitter on the way to school and pick them up in the afternoon. I couldn't lift the little ones so Shawn took over their care ( they were one and three at the time of my surgery ). He got me through that year and a half of disabililty and he's been there for me all of his life.
The other nice thing about him is that he's an electrical engineer and he knows all about computers. The first time I had him add more memory to my old computer, I was really anxious when I saw the parts all over the table. Exasperated, he looked at me and said, "Mom, if the Air Force lets me work on the computer systems for the C5, I think I can handle this HP." Go figure, to me, he'll always be my first born, the cutest little toddler...and I'm scared for him to be in Afghanistan. Now, I have to go get a towel because I'm bawling like crazy. Good thing I'm downstairs and the boys are upstairs.
Whenever I start worrying, Shawn just tells me, "Mom, you've got to keep the faith...so, that's why this Alphabe Thursday "K" is for "keep the faith" - I'll try but I'll be worrying for the whole year and I guess I'd better not watch the news. I've been mourning for all the sad loss of life in Afghanistan and Iraq but now things are going to feel much more personal to me.
The saddest thing of all is that Shawn will probably be deployed before his brother's wedding May 7th and he was to be best man. Alex said nobody can replace Shawn so he'll just get married without a best man if Shawn isn't here.
Tonight, I made a special dinner - Mediterranean trout - since the kids leave tomorrow for Vegas and don't get back till late Sunday and Shawn may have to report to Travis on Monday.
I am really going to miss that kid!! He is the best company. We sit and chat late at night, over a glass of wine, talking about travel, music, and politics.
I MUST keep the faith that he'll be back, safe and sound, in a year and, hopefully, he won't have changed too much from the experience. I hope all of you will keep him, and our other troops, in your prayers.
Well, I guess there will be more wine for me now...but I'd rather be sharing!
Jeremy, my impudent youngest son, telling me, "No more blog photos, Mom"
He finally gave in - so we could eat!
Shawn with his heavy beard!!! Some folks think he looks like George Clooney.